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The Dillinger Escape Plan - "One Of Us Is The Killer" (CD)

The Dillinger Escape Plan - "One Of Us Is The Killer" CD cover image

"One Of Us Is The Killer" track listing:

1. Prancer
2. When I Lost My Bet
3. One of Us Is the Killer
4. Hero of the Soviet Union
5. Nothing's Funny
6. Understanding Decay
7. Paranoia Shields
8. CH 375 268 277 ARS
9. Magic That I Held You Prisoner
10. Crossburner
11. The Threat Posed by Nuclear Weapons

Reviewed by on June 21, 2013

"'One of Us is the Killer' is a monumental battlefield for the band’s warring personalities."

The Dillinger Escape Plan. For most heavy music observers the band's name alone conjures their distinct and volatile cacophony. The sixteen years since their formation have seen their complex and caffeinated brand of mathcore grow from obscurity to ubiquity.

In 1999 the band released the genre-defining "Calculating Infinity." The albums that followed have acted as a sequence of violent detonations that reverberate into the present. As much a challenge to their fans as the world at large, 2004’s "Miss Machine" was a profoundly multipolar assault. Furious and erratic songs dominated the album, but the band also plowed through experimental and melodic terrain that would establish much of their present day sound. In 2007 Dillinger resurfaced with "Ire Works." A natural extension of "Miss Machine" despite some lineup changes, this album saw the band applying more confident pop-sense to their jittery fury. However, the band’s 2010 release, "Option Paralysis" was an uncharacteristically lopsided affair; compelling opening salvos failed to spare it from a minefield of filler that followed. Some performances wandered absently off course, struggling to generate tension or release (“Crystal Morning”, “Room Full of Eyes”). Other tracks were achingly by-the-numbers (“Chinese Whispers”), or willfully crammed with ill-fitting clichés (“Widower”).

Their latest release, "One of Us is the Killer," opens with a bombardment of patented, unorthodox riffs but this is mere covering fire for the subversive hooks that cling to both "Prancer" and "When I Lost My Bet." Those seeking a true detour will find it on the album's title track. Verses creep along with the hushed, and vaguely eerie simplicity of Portishead. When the chorus finally lunges from its dark corner, it pulls the listener into the haunting anthemic realms tested with "Miss Machine" and perfected on "Ire Works."

"Understanding Decay" enjoys a particularly jarring trajectory. An instrumental countdown precedes a turbulent rocket launch ascent that swiftly passes through frantic guitar leads and soaring melodic vocals. Gravity is ultimately realized when a hovering, wounded-helicopter passage eventually careens earthward like an overloaded elevator. Plodding bass lines pave the way for sustained melodies, squirrelly guitar leads, and trumpeted choruses throughout "Nothing's Funny." In what could be construed as an homage, the band convincingly channels Mike Patton fronted band Tomahawk at their most malevolent throughout "Paranoia Shields."

As the album hurtles towards conclusion, "Crossburner" generates lumbering low-end menace and whispered, echoing vocals that inevitably give way to screaming spasms of irate psychosis. "The Threat Posed by Nuclear War" is a worthy finale that tends toward tightly wound thrash and manages epic dimensions with a brisk run time of 3:46.

"One of Us is the Killer" is a monumental battlefield for the band’s warring personalities. Vocalist Greg Puciato sings with such visceral conviction and effortless grace as to challenge his own influences. His range is dynamic enough to suggest multiple singers and his lyrics teeter between hammer blunt and razor sharp. Guitarist Ben Weinman's compositional sleight of hand still keeps the listener guessing and his guitar leads evoke coffee sodden fever dreams. While the band is keen to shank the unwary with musical hooks, they never let a rhythm wear out its welcome. Instrumental performances tend toward density but startling voids can swallow the listener without warning. Fans left confused or bored by "Option Paralysis," will find their patience rewarded with "One of Us is the Killer."

Highs: The giddy, excessive force of “Understanding Decay” and “The Threat Posed by Nuclear War”. The mercilessly haunting title track, “Nothing’s Funny”, and “Paranoia Shields”.

Lows: Unlike the band’s previous mood setting instrumental interludes, “CH 375268277 ARS” staggers the album’s pace.

Bottom line: "One of Us is the Killer" has been caught red handed. It has the jagged asymmetry of "Calculating Infinity," the gear-shifting dynamism of "Miss Machine," and the dark pop-sense of "Ire Works."

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)